This happened to one of our members last week.
She received a call from a DEA agent saying that she was under investigation because her DEA, NPI, and License # were involved in the trafficking of narcotics. Large packages of methadone, hydrocodone, suboxone, and other narcotics arrived in Texas under her DEA #. The agents gave her their names and badge numbers. They started by talking to her clinic manager. While on the phone with them, she checked online and found that the names she was given were the names of real DEA agents, so she felt that it was legitimate. However, she became suspicious and called the attorney for her hospital. The attorney determined that it was a scam. Apparently, this had happened to some other physicians. It seems that these scammers would continue to call the physician about the “investigation.” Once they gained some trust, they would begin asking for money so that it didn’t have to be reported and cause damage to the physician’s reputation, etc.
She initially believed the scammers because they did have the name of real DEA agents and their badge numbers. They did not originally ask her for money or any other ID. But fortunately, she did reach out to an attorney who could check further and determine that it was a scam before it got to the point where they were asking her for money.
If this has happened to you, you are clearly not the only one. If you feel comfortable, please let me know. One of our colleagues has researched it, and she says that they seem to be targeting females, though who knows how widespread it is because victims don’t talk about it. They are embarrassed. One physician at an east coast academic center was very traumatized by it. There is some interest in writing about it, so if you have experienced it, you could be helpful to others by letting me know. I will keep your name confidential if you wish. I don’t think it takes a psychiatrist to see that these people are sociopaths who target good people doing good work and traumatize them for their own financial gain.
It was reported to the DEA and FBI.
Colleen Ryan, MD FASAM
Helpful Tips on How to Avoid Phone Scams
Phone scams have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, targeting unsuspecting individuals with the aim of stealing personal information or money. To help you avoid becoming a victim of a phone scam, here are some useful tips:
- Be cautious with personal information: Never provide personal information such as your social security number, bank account details, or passwords over the phone unless you initiated the call and trust the recipient. Legitimate organizations typically won’t ask for sensitive information over the phone.
- Verify the caller’s identity: If someone claims to represent a company or organization, ask for their full name, position, and contact information. Take the time to independently verify their identity by contacting the organization directly using a trusted phone number or official website.
- Beware of unsolicited calls: Be skeptical of unsolicited calls, especially if they claim you’ve won a prize, owe money, or demand immediate action. Scammers often use high-pressure tactics to create a sense of urgency and exploit your emotions.
- Register your number on the “Do Not Call” list: In many countries, you can add your phone number to the “Do Not Call” registry. While this won’t completely eliminate scam calls, it can help reduce the number of legitimate telemarketing calls you receive.
- Be cautious of caller ID spoofing: Scammers can manipulate caller ID to make it appear as though they are calling from a different number or even a legitimate organization. Remember that caller ID is not a foolproof verification method, and be wary of trusting it completely.
- Hang up and call back: If you receive a suspicious call, hang up without providing any information. If the call was purportedly from a legitimate organization, find their official contact information independently and call them back to ensure the authenticity of the request.
- Stay updated on common scams: Familiarize yourself with common phone scams that are prevalent in your region. Stay informed about the tactics scammers use so you can recognize and avoid them.
- Use call-blocking tools: Consider using call-blocking applications or services provided by your phone carrier to filter out known scam numbers. These tools can help reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive.
- Educate yourself and your loved ones: Spread awareness about phone scams among your family and friends. Sharing information about common scams can help protect those around you from falling victim to fraudulent schemes.
- Trust your instincts: If something feels off or too good to be true, trust your gut instincts. Don’t hesitate to end the call or seek advice from a trusted source if you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a phone call.
Remember, scammers are constantly developing new tactics, so it’s important to stay vigilant and exercise caution when dealing with unknown callers or suspicious requests over the phone.